Warning: this article features loads of IT stereotypes that may or may not be true.
When you think ‘IT’, you’d be forgiven for imagining a middle-aged man with a long beard, wearing a Jurassic Park tee and sitting in a windowless basement playing World of Warcraft until the wee hours of the morning.
Similarly, IT managers frequently get similar reputations as people who live and breathe computers, fix the internet when it goes offline and doesn’t always come across as human. They’re typical geeks, and no one knows what their job is except them.
In reality, though, a good IT provider is significantly less geek and more professional. Here’s why.
IT is a Driver for Business Proficiency
It doesn’t matter what industry you work in these days, IT plays a huge part of it. Whether you’re a blogger who sits in front of a laptop, a sales rep who spends more hours on the phone than breathing or a COO who manages 50+ staff, you’d have no idea what to do with yourselves if your IT demands went down.
In order for a business to run efficiently and optimally in the 21st century, business owners and managers must have a documented IT strategy that will help take them to the next level. In order to create this, an IT manager needs to have a professional mindset and needs to understand the overall direction of the business and how they’re going to help get it there.
Business owners and managers demand out-of-the-box thinking from all of their staff, and an IT manager is no exception. Unfortunately, innovation and creative thinking often aren’t what you get with typical ‘IT geeks’ who continue to run systems like they did 10 years ago.
Geeks, Be Gone
What characterised the IT crowd in the past was their way of working. Typically, they’d create a role where only they knew what was going on so if anything went wrong, only they could fix it. This made IT and everything associated with it intimidating for everyone else in the business, and almost positioned an IT manager as the office ‘hero’.
For the IT industry to be taken more seriously, we need to get rid of this geeky persona. The positive thinking around Apple products has supported this way of thinking, because Apple is seen as ‘cool’ in every industry, versus a programme like Linux which is definitely still pretty geeky.
Today, IT is more about streamlining processes and equipping and empowering everyone to be able to solve their IT problems. Software and strategies have evolved significantly over the last 10 years so ‘IT geeks’ need to keep up with new technology and not remain stuck in their ways.
Another ‘geek indicator’ is the inability to make tech-speak sound understandable and approachable to the average human. Being able to articulate complicated, technical jargon and processes simply is actually an art, one that many IT professionals have not yet mastered.
How to Spot the Difference between a Geek and a Professional
If you’re in the market for IT services, but you want to hire a professional, here are a few questions to ask yourself before signing on the dotted line:
Do you understand what they’re saying?
Did they turn up to your meeting looking professional?
Do they explain processes simply?
Do they come across as being outgoing and friendly?
Are they up to the play with modern technology and business demands?
If you answered ‘no’ to any of those questions, that IT professional might not be the best fit for your business. You want an IT provider that will come into your business and fits seamlessly with your processes and people, not create divisions. You want to know what they’re doing. And most importantly, you want value - you want bang for your buck.